No matter what industry you’re in, what your company does, or how many employees you have on staff, you need to offer opportunities for employee learning and development. Training can act as refresher courses, reminding employees how to do their jobs well. They can also help employees learn skills that can help them grow and move elsewhere in the company.
The benefits of offering learning and development resources
Training programs don’t just benefit employees, though. It’s good for the company as a whole. By offering learning and development resources to your staff, you’re giving them the tools to improve and grow within the company.
Learning and growth are incredibly important to employees. Unfortunately, many companies don’t satisfy that need:
- 87% of employees believe training and skills development are either essential or important to their career
- 66% of employees don’t see opportunities for professional growth at their current company
- More than 1 in 4 employees don’t have the right tools to do their jobs successfully
- 94% of employees would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career
Learning and development opportunities are highly valued by employees in today’s workforce. Since it affects turnover, productivity, engagement, and employee happiness, it’s vital that companies give their employees a chance to grow.
If your company isn’t providing those professional development opportunities because of funding or lack of research, check out our picks below. It’s never too late to start offering them now.
Orientation and onboarding
Start new employees off on the right foot by giving them comprehensive orientation and onboarding training. Orientation and onboarding may be used interchangeably to mean “new employee training,” but they’re actually pretty different.
Orientation is a generic, one-time event that formally welcomes and introduces new employees to the company. It’s typically hosted on their first day or during their first week on the job. An orientation session is usually appropriate for any employee in any department or role.
Human resources will touch on topics like:
- Company history, mission, and values
- Company culture
- New-hire paperwork
- Benefits and compensation overview
- Key policies
- Administrative tasks like desk and email setup, key card assignments, and so on
Compared to orientation, onboarding is more specific to a new employee’s department or role. Onboarding also typically takes longer than a one-time orientation session. Depending on the employee’s job, it may take weeks, months, or even through the first year.
Onboarding might include technical training skills, periodic meetings with department leadership, and advice for being successful in their new role.
Self-directed online learning
The top reason employees feel held back from workplace learning? They don’t have the time. Getting employees to make time for learning is challenging. Holding learning seminars during the day cuts into work time. And holding them during lunch as a “lunch and learn” can make employees feel that their personal time isn’t respected.
To get around these hurdles, give employees opportunities for self-directed learning. Webinars, blog posts, online journals, and white papers can be found online at little to no cost. And employees can complete them on their own time when their workload is slow, or in small chunks throughout the day.
Some of the most important skills for employees to learn include soft skills: leadership, communication, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, collaboration, and time management. There are plenty of online resources to improve these soft skills and others. As a bonus, many of these resources are free, or free with a membership.
Management and Productivity
Writing and Content
- Presentation Essentials, SkillShare
- Communicating with Confidence, LinkedIn Learning
- Communication Skills, SkillShare
Coding and Tech
Self-directed, self-paced programs give motivated employees structured learning, but the chance to learn and complete them on their own schedules.
Mentoring programs and on-the-job training
Self-directed learning and microlearning are both great, but don’t forget about hands-on training and mentoring programs. For employees who learn by watching and doing, these forms of learning and professional development may be much more helpful than watching online videos and completing quizzes.
They don’t have to be costly, either. Allow leaders or subject matter experts (SMEs) to host on-the-job training for other employees every so often. Let an employee shadow someone more experienced so that they can better understand their skills and responsibilities. A mentoring program can be more ongoing and consistent, letting employees work with mentors over a longer period of time. With either development program, you might evaluate employee performance afterward to see how they’ve improved after their training sessions.
We know, we know: getting managers involved in employee learning is hard. It’s not that they don’t think it’s important or that they don’t want to help. They’re just busy enough as it is, and being involved with on-the-job training or mentoring just adds another task to their already overloaded schedule.
Managers may need a gentle reminder that training the employees on their team is part of their job. It keeps their team members engaged, productive, happy, and in tip-top shape. Ultimately, it will help make their job easier, too.
To make the idea of a mentoring program or on-the-job training more appealing and less stressful to managers, keep it positive. Promote success stories from these development programs. Call out managers who are enthusiastic and successful with their mentees. And of course, get feedback from managers: what’s the best time of day to host training? How long should sessions be? What do you want to teach employees? You’ll get less pushback when you take their needs into account.
Learning and development made easy
As you can see, giving employees opportunities for professional development doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming. It does take a little research and time to put together. However, it’s an important part of the employee experience and your company culture, so it’s worth investing in.